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Page 1 of Bernadette’s letter
Love Hall 233
UNL, Lincoln, Neb.
Sunday, June 7, 1942
Thank you for your long letter. It arrived in yesterday’s mail. I went to 9:30 Mass at Blessed Sacrament this morning, and I’ve finished all my classwork for tomorrow, so I have the whole afternoon to write to you.
I’ll tell you my most important news first. I’ve decided to leave school, at least for a while. I’m going to move up to Omaha this summer and go to work in the big Martin airplane factory there. After the war I can go back to school and finish my degree. I know you’ll say I should stay in school and get my degree, especially since I’m on a full scholarship, but philosophy seems so unimportant right now. I read the wonderful news of the Navy’s great victory at Midway Island in the paper this morning, and then Father Kraemer gave a homily on duty and responsibility, and I’ve decided that I can’t just sit around any longer. I have a duty to serve my country. So I’m going to do my part for the war effort. I guess that makes me sort of like Papa when he went back to France. He was a hero, Mama, and I’m too much like him to stay here at school.
There, that’s out of the way. On to other things.
I don’t suppose you’re any happier about rationing than everybody is here. Rationing is bad enough anyway, and it’ll probably get worse before it gets better, but when they started issuing Sugar Books last month, the cooks here in the dormitory were really upset. But I think it’s going to work out OK. Our cooks are pretty good at making do. They saw a recipe in Good Housekeeping, and now we’re getting meat loaf that’s half soybeans, but it’s still pretty good, and it really saves on meat points. A lot of good recipes are showing up in Good Housekeeping and the Woman’s Home Companion and even the newspapers. Here’s a good dessert recipe that was just in the paper here, I’ll bet you haven’t seen it yet. It’s surprisingly good.
Honey Marshmallow Custard
2 C milk
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 T honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bring milk just to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally.
While the milk is heating, lightly grease 6 small custard cups. Set cups in a 9×13 baking dish. Drop a marshmallow in each cup.
Combine eggs, honey, vanilla, and salt in a 1-qt Pyrex measuring cup. Gradually beat the hot milk into the mixture.
Divide milk mixture into the custard cups. Place baking pan on oven rack and fill with hot water 1 inch deep. Bake until set, about 45 minutes.
Cool to room temperature, then chill at least two hours before serving.
Some of the women professors have made it a habit to jump on food lines wherever they see them. They use their stamps to get things they can trade away for other things that they want. I suppose it works, but somehow it seems a little unfair. I don’t think they should be buying food that they won’t ever use, even if they do hope to trade it away.
Dormitory life goes on much as it always has. With the heat of the summer, we are having more outdoor parties. Even though this is a residence hall, the fraternity men seem to find out about our parties, and they always show up. It’s great fun dancing with the senior men, they don’t seem to have any idea that I’m only a sophomore, and I’m not about to tell them. I’ve gotten really good at doing eyeliner on my legs to look like stockings, and I can even take a puff on a Lucky Strike without coughing. Last month about 20 of us went into town, to the USO, and the band was Glen Gray’s Casa Loma Orchestra. Now there’s a band! Their lead singer is named Kenny Sargent. He’s not anything like as popular as Frank Sinatra, but he’s oh so smooth and sophisticated. He makes me feel all grown up just listening to him. Sinatra is really more for the bobby-soxer crow—
Darn pen, just ran out of ink, they always do it at the worst times! It’s funny, though, I love this old black and silver pen that Papa gave me when he went away. It was his favorite, too, and that makes it very special.
You might remember Doreen Siddons, the friend I brought home for the Christmas holidays. She said yes to a pilot named Randall Swift in January. He got his orders for Africa about two weeks ago, and they just went out and got married right then. They had their honeymoon last weekend in Omaha. Randall was one of the pilots assigned to ferry the squadron’s new planes to Libya — with a stopover in the Azores, what luck! — and they took off on Monday from Fort Crook, where the Martin factory is. But something went wrong in his plane, they said one of the engines failed and the plane can’t take off on only one engine, and it crashed. Everybody on board was killed. Doreen was there to see him off, and now she’s a total wreck. She can’t study at all, she just mopes around, and she wakes up screaming, saying she sees the plane blow up over and over again in her dreams. I think she’ll probably just not bother to take her finals next week. It’s too bad, Randall was a really nice young man, and Doreen is a sweetheart. I hope she’ll get over it, but there’s really nothing I can say to her right now except to be there and comfort her when she cries. Would it be OK if I brought her home again? I don’t know if she’ll even come, but New York in the summer is such a great place to be, maybe it would help take her mind off Randall’s death.